Ferrying the dead on September 11th

September 11, 2011

I woke up when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Even in my sleep there were voices urging me to be alert, to wake up in every sense of the words.

My living room window was open and I heard panicked journalists talking faster and higher that usual. All I could catch was that a tower was falling.

I turned on the radio and tried to make sense of what I was hearing. I went to the TV (I only receive PBS) and there was a children’s show on. It was one of the more jarring, surreal experiences on that most jarring and surreal of days, to hear the horror pouring out of my radio pitched against the saccharine-sweet music and primary colors on my TV screen.

Got ready and then fled to a friend’s house where CNN played the plane crash over and over. Interview with a congressman calling for nuclear strikes. People jumping. People falling. Jerry Falwell blaming Pagans for the attacks.

I felt Called. Upstairs my friend had a room dedicated as ritual space. I spread out my things on his altars and opened fully to the Spirit realms. And what I found there was completely overwhelming.

Chaos. Complete and utter chaos. Thousands of souls, panicked and shrieking. Terror in its purest form, without bodies to mediate it. I was aware of intense motion but also a stopping: They did not know what had happened to them, and they could not get past the Veil.

I went where I was Called to go. I cleared my back and made it a bridge. I calmed my spirit and stepped into the maelstrom. I cast a Circle and breathed soothing peace. I sang every lullabye I was given, and ended with a heart-rending, aching version of Blackbird by The Beatles. And I acted as wayfinder and guide, showing them the way through the Worlds.

I have never known such suffering as we experienced on September 11th, 2001. I pray I never do again. The suffering in the Spirit realm was beyond anything I was prepared for. Later, as we got the lines of communication flowing, a Witch set up a psychic pentagram in New York City where we could direct our energies. Her coven then redirected that energy to people and places that needed it. It felt good to have a community that came together in a crisis to offer our unique gifts and skills for the greater good.

I can only wonder about similar psychic shocks, especially the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Who ferried the dead then? What psychic scars still remain?

I have always walked between the Worlds. It is a lonely place to be. But on September 11th, I knew my place and I knew my path. I couldn’t help everyone. I couldn’t do it all alone. But I know the realms settled into balance over time. On the tenth anniversary of that terrible day, may we breathe peace for the living and the dead, for all that went before and for all that came after. Blessed Be.

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Rise In Love by Kaia, September 11th

September 9, 2011

Words and music by Ysaye M. Barnwell. ©2001 Barnwell’s Notes, Inc. Used by permission.
Arr. Cairril Adaire


Commissioned by The Mystic Chorale, Rise In Love is Barnwell’s/Sweet Honey in the Rock’s response to the events of Sept 11th. The piece is dedicated to Cesare Giovanni Mathis Melussi, born two weeks after 9/11. Barnwell says “Rise in love” emerged as a mantra she found herself saying over and over in the wake of Sept 11th. I took a more contemporary R&B approach to the piece, simplifying lyrics without losing the political edge and the call to love so beautifully expressed in Barnwell’s original. Our recording can be found on Kaia’s Get Down, Rise Up!. (Hear a sample)

See Kaia performing Rise In Love

(We asked Ysaye M. Barnwell’s permission to record and perform the song—to my delight, she not only said yes, she said she loved the arrangement!)

Here are my revised lyrics:

Dear one, I never thought that you would see such a time
I hear your cries
Dear one, there is a reason for these things, but there’s no rhyme
I hear your why’s

But I don’t have the answer to your questions
I don’t have answers for your prayers
I just know this is a moment of transcendence
If we just have the courage to care

Let us, let us, let us rise in love

Dear one, our world has changed in the blink of an eye
I hear your cries
Dear one, a part of each and every one of us has died
I hear your whys

But I don’t have the answer to your questions
I don’t have answers for your prayers
I just know this is a moment of transcendence
If we just have the courage to care

Let us, let us, let us rise in love

The universe is polarized by hatred
We ourselves have been baptized in fear
Some of us are even paralyzed in principle
And there’s anger in the falling of each tear

For so long we’ve just watched foreign agony
The tide has changed; now we grieve at home
Though we’re victimized by terror, we’re not innocent
Where’s the courage to change, oh the courage to change what we’ve condoned

Let us, let us, let us rise in love